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Recall now officially on for Newsom

It’s now official.

California voters will be asked sometime in the coming months if they want to recall Gavin Newsom as governor.

They will also be asked on the same ballot to vote for someone to replace him in the event Newsom ends up being recalled.

California Secretary of State Shirley Weber confirmed Wednesday there were enough verified signatures — 1,719,900 after 43 had been withdrawn during a 30-day period when voters who signed petitions are allowed to do so — to trigger a recall. The petition circulators needed to secure 1,495,709 verified signatures of registered voters.

Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis under law must now schedule the recall election with 60 to 80 days.

The earliest it could take place is in August. However, various county clerks have warned that is too early due to issues with securing special paper required for ballots. That latest it can be held is in November.

Newsom has already signed legislation that would make the next election 100 percent mail-in. That means ballots will go into the hands of voters as much as 30 days ahead of time.

The recall ballot will consist of two questions:

*Should Newsom be called?

*Who should replace Newsom?

Voting education advocates have already been expressing concerns people may not understand that if they vote against the recall it doesn’t preclude them for voting for a replacement in the event Newsom is recalled.

The challenger receiving the most votes finishes out the incumbent's term in office. In this case it would be until January 2023.

Challengers now have a short time frame to qualify for the ballot. They must be a registered voter. They also will have to pay $4,000 or collect 7,000 signatures from registered voters in order to be eligible to be listed on the recall ballot.

Back in 2003 when Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected governor on the same ballot that then Gov. Gray Davis was recalled, it required 65 signatures from members of the challenger’s party and a $3,500 filing fee to run as a replacement candidate.

Recalls are rare on the state-level. There have been 117 attempts since the recall process became part of the state constitution in 1911 during the reform era headed up by then Gov. Hiram Johnson. Of those, only seven made it all the way to the ballot and they involved state legislators.

Not only was Davis the first governor recalled in California history he was only the second governor in the entire United States to be successfully recalled. The dubious honor of being first went to North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier in 1921.

Much has been made of the 2003 recall being a circus as there were 135 names on the ballot including porn king Larry Flynt and grown-up child star Gary Coleman, but only four candidates drew more than 1 percent of the votes cast. The voting results to replace Davis showed Californians took the recall seriously at 93.5 percent of the votes went to the three viable candidates.

Several previous attempts to collect the signatures of 12 percent of the registered voters who cast ballots for governor in the 2018 election when Newsom was elected fell way short. The current one that has now made it to the ballot gained traction thanks to perceptions of how Newsom has handled the pandemic triggered by his famous maskless dining at the  exclusive French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley after spending months admonishing Californians to wear masks and not do unnecessary travel.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email